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Ancient Bards - 'Soulless Child' Hot

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Written by Central Electronic Brain     January 17, 2012    
 
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You will either love it or hate it.

Ancient Bards is an Italian epic metal band that was founded by Daniele Mazza back in 2007. The bands first output was a 5 track trailer in 2008. This received excellent reviews and after some extensive touring the band set about recording their debut. 'The Alliance Of The Kings' was released in 2010 and was given even more rave reviews. Ancient Bards consists of Sara Squadrani (vocals), Fabio Balducci (guitar), Claudio Pietronik (guitar), Martiino Garattoni (bass), Mazza (keys) and Federico Gatti (drums) and 'Soulless Child' is the sextet's follow up...

Like many recent releases, this album opens with an instrumental. As it reaches its crescendo the first track kicks in with an almighty choir chorus. Then like a demented madman the intensely fast double drum beat takes off along with flowing melodies on the guitar and 'To The Master Of Darkness' is in full flow. That almost maniacal beat and big orchestral sound powers other tracks like 'Gates Of Noland' and 'Valiant Ride', whereas 'Through My Veins' has the same frantic rhythm section but is more powered by the guitar. The intensity is broken up with the excellent ballad 'All That Is True' and another short musical interlude mid album. The band saved the best, most varied and longest track till the end. 'Hope Dies Last' is a complex song full of all the hallmarks of both the band and the genre in general.

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This is a great epic metal album and it gets better with each listen. At first the insanely fast drumming does feel very repetitive. But with more plays the subtle rhythm changes start to become more obvious. This will certainly appeal to fans of acts such as Rhapsody Of Fire and Freedom Call. There are frantically-paced rhythms, big choir choruses, immense orchestral melodies, big riffs on the guitar, lots of layered keyboards and wonderful female vocals spread throughout. The band as musicians certainly has plenty of talent to be able to play such intricate compositions. Squadrani may not being a singer quite of the ability of Tarja Turunen but she does have a strong enough voice to carry the album along. The production is of a high quality and allows all facets of the songs to be heard as clearly as could be expected. If there is one negative on this technical side it's that occasionally Squadrani seems to get a little lost as the maelstrom of orchestra and band swirl around her. From other parts of the album it is evident the strength of her voice is not the issue. A subtle change in favour of her vocals could easily solve this.

'Soulless Child' may be another marmite-like album in that you will either love it or hate it. But if you do have a love of all things epic, soundtrack and symphonic metal then Ancient Bards is a new name on the block worthy of further interest.

Dave Scott

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